St Frank e-store and San Francisco boutique

Global artisan treasures – from Moroccan cactus-silk rugs to Cameroonian hats-cum-wall hangings

Image: Courtesy of St Frank/Suzanna Scott

Heading to brunch a few weeks back at one of the old (by California standards, anyway) stately mansions in San Francisco’s Presidio Heights neighbourhood, I caught sight of a Juju, the feather-festooned raffia hat donned by Cameroonian tribal chiefs and dignitaries to symbolise prosperity.

Image: Courtesy of St Frank/Suzanna Scott
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While my travels have yet to take me to Africa, my taste in interior decor is decidedly more global, especially since I discovered St Frank, a socially responsible start-up that partners with artisans around the world. It was on the St Frank website that I first developed a slight obsession with these exotic wall hangings – and there on Outer Sacramento Street I had unexpectedly found the nascent brand’s first bricks-and-mortar boutique.

The white-walled, sunlit space (second picture) presents a series of eminently liveable rooms, decorated, I imagine, by someone with many a passport stamp. Beneath those African hats (from $395, first picture), I spied a Moroccan cactus-silk rug (from $925, third picture) that I had been stalking online, alongside a number of other unique textile pieces. In the next room I came upon a bevy of intricately handwoven Guatemalan Huipil throw pillows (from $140, fourth picture), which had been populating my more materialistic daydreams of late.

The St Frank online portal presents, click-by-click, an annotated around-the-world design tour, encompassing Mexican Day of the Dead clay skulls ($225, fifth picture); vibrant striped Bolivian frazada (from $525, sixth picture), the woven wool rugs of the indigenous Aymara people; one-of-a-kind Uzbek daisy-decorated suzani wall hangings (from $3,500); and hand-beaded Yoruba crowns (from $595), bestowed upon newly enthroned kings to provide spiritual guidance.

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I strolled among this utterly covetable collection “from all continents except Antarctica”, as I overheard one salesperson explain, then sank into a cowhide-covered chair with a café latte, musing that it wouldn’t do to show up late to brunch encumbered with shopping bags full of throw pillows. Instead I grabbed two adorable soft elephant toys ($40 each) made of hand-spun, natural indigo-dyed cotton by the Tai Lue people in northwest Laos for my friend’s twin daughters, and an ethically sheared baby alpaca throw ($225) for the host herself, to soften the blow of my unexpected yet unavoidable tardiness.

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